Developments to Watch
THIS POISON COULD BECOME A POTENT POTION AGAINST CANCER
Selenium can be a deadly poison, yet researchers know that tiny amounts of the non-metallic element are essential in our diet. Now, they're finding that it may play a role in fighting cancer.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the Roswell Park Memorial Institute in Buffalo, N. Y. have discovered a selenium compound that sharply reduces the incidence of breast cancer in rats, without causing any ill effects. Scientists believe the compounds fight cancer by scavenging strong oxidizing molecules that can damage cells.
Whether selenium is toxic or beneficial depends on its chemical form. Inorganic selenium proved to be toxic. On the other hand, the cancer-fighting compounds were similar to those found in nature--in shrubs and herbs of the species astragalus. The next step is to find the most effective compound and test it in humans. However, the scientists warn that people should not try to treat themselves with selenium.EDITED BY WILLIAM D. MARBACH